BORIS Johnson looks set to take over from Theresa May as Prime Minister now she’s finally announced she will step down.
The 54-year-old ex-Foreign Secretary revealed last week he WOULD run to replace her, and his campaign is set to be in full swing within days.
The bookies have had him as the favourite for months, and Tory members insist he is the one they want to take them into the next election too and fight Jeremy Corbyn.
His charisma, energy and bravado have already attracted voters from across the spectrum to him for years – giving him two successful terms as Mayor of London, and four election wins as an MP.
After much deliberation he was also on the winning side for the historic 2016 referendum – proving he’s in touch with the people of Britain and understands what they want.
He draws crowds wherever he goes and lines up supporters in a celebrity-like fashion – it would be foolish to rule out his chances.
Leadership candidates have already been meeting with MPs for weeks, begging them for their support, and Boris has been no exception.
He’s been smartening up with a new haircut, fresher suits, and he’s even lost weight to help win his more support and look like a PM in waiting.
But Boris has had relatively few friends in Parliament for years now – and it could be too little, too late to woo over the hundreds of MPs he needs to get down to the final two candidates.
He’ll have to make sure he has a great team around him to make that happen.
Fresh YouGov research today even said he was the most popular and least popular candidate in the running, showing how incredibly divisive he is among Tories and voters.
The top Tory has got a huge task on his hands to avoid the pitfalls from the last leadership race in 2016, which seriously damaged his credentials.
Boris was set to run on a joint ticket with Michael Gove, who eventually knifed him in the back and went for it alone.
Just hours later after a morning of chaos, Boris dramatically pulled out of the race.
During his time as Foreign Secretary he also came under fire for undermining statesmanship-like credentials with a string of gaffes and undignified behaviour – which he will have to overcome if he wants to enter No10.
His rival candidates will be keen to emphasise and capitalise on his weaknesses in the days ahead to try and slap him down before he gets the momentum going.
However, in recent days even Remainer MPs have coming around to the idea of Boris as PM, believing he might be the one to fight off Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party who are soaring in the polls.
The Tories are suffering a terrifying mauling from fuming voters for not delivering Brexit yet, and many think he’s the only one who can stop the Brexit Party tidal wave.
And he’ll be popular with many right-wingers in the Tory party by saying today we have to get out of the EU by October 31 – deal or No Deal.
“The way to get a good deal is to prepare for a no deal,” he said today at a conference in Switzerland.
And he added: “A new leader will have the opportunity to do things differently and have the momentum of a new administration.
“The job of our next leader has to be getting the UK properly out of the EU, putting Brexit to bed.”
One Remainer MP told The Sun: “I won’t back Boris at the start but might do in the later rounds.
“Maybe we need a strong Brexiteer to take on Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage. And it certainly can’t be Dominic Raab.”
Boris last week tweeted his support of a group of One Nation values – pushed by moderate remainers like Amber Rudd and Damian Green – in a clear message that he wants their support for the top job and is prepared to compromise and mould his positions.
His support will be vital for Boris as he’s got good relations with the Northern Irish party, the DUP, who could be vital in another government.
Loyal former minister Alastair Burt, when asked whether he could back Mr Johnson, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The answer to the question for almost all the candidates is yes.
“I would find it very difficult to support a candidate who said it was in Britain’s best interest to leave with no deal, leave straight away…
“I don’t expect any candidate really to say that.”
Rising star Johnny Mercer, who some said could run for the top job himself, confirmed he was backing Boris to bring the country back together.
He told ITV that he needed to “go out and inspire the party, bring them together, and get over this issue”.
Then Britain could get back to everyday business of governing, he predicted optimistically.
Boris lays out vision and says he’s only one who can beat Corbyn & Farage
Scottish MP Stephen Kerr said: “For me and my Scottish Conservative colleagues, strengthening the union must be a very strong theme in the prospectus that any prospective leader offers the Scottish Conservatives.
“I think Boris is aware, from my conversations with him, that he has to project a different image to the people of Scotland, there’s no doubt about that. He recognises that challenge.
“The reality is that Boris is a major player in this contest, but whoever is going to lead the Conservative Party, whoever puts themselves forward to lead the Conservative Party, is going to have to be a unifier.”